Identify the Victim, Identify the Perpetrator

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According to my stepfather, he was the victim of my sexual abuse. In his way of thinking, he wasn’t responsible for what happened between us.

He said over and over to me “See how much you want me Kimmy”, “See what you make my dick do Sissy” and “I can’t help myself, Sissy, you are so beautiful.” To him, I wanted him. He would do things to make sure I was sexually excited and then tell me ” See how much you want me?”

Because he had said things like this to me for years, I thought it was my idea to have sex with him. This was one of the reasons I felt guilty when I told, I thought I was telling on myself.

It was the summer of 1975 when I told Mom Jack and I had been sleeping together. I sat in a folding lawn chair in the backyard. My body felt heavy like I wasn’t going to be strong enough to hold myself up. I felt it everywhere. I was breathing shallowly, feeling slightly dizzy from the lack of oxygen.

When I said, “Jack and I had been sleeping together”… (wrong I know now). I remember thinking I would be in so much trouble because I had wanted to do all those bad things. Somehow at the age of 4, I had the idea to have oral sex with a grown man, somehow, it was my idea, I felt like I was telling on myself for having done something wrong.

It was disastrous telling her, she responded by asking was there anyone else who knew. I said yes, my uncles, cause Jack had tried to get them to have sex with me. So she left to talk to them about what happened. That was it. No nothing else.

Later Jack came home and asked where she was. He told me to get the kids in bed, so I climbed in bed with my little sisters, while the boys got in bed in their room.

We all fell asleep. Later I woke up with Jack and Mom arguing in the kitchen, Mom saying “why would she say something like that?”

He responded with I don’t know, maybe she didn’t want to do the dishes anymore.

They were back and forth for the longest time while I drifted off again. There was a little bit of hurt when he said what I had told was being reduced to something so petty as not wanting to do dishes.

Later, he complained to me about how I had upset my Mom and gotten him in trouble.

So when I look back on this I realize that I thought I was the problem, I caused him to do what he had done for years. It took years for me to correct my own thinking. I didn’t cause him to do anything, He did it. He was the perpetrator, he was the criminal, I was a child, I know now how I had to distort my own thinking in an effort to cope with the things he did to me and how I tried to make sense of it in my young child mind.

And recovery takes so long because there is so much sorting out to be done. Because I was so young, I didn’t have a basis for what was wrong or right. And my whole childhood was built around those lies he told me.

Now I can identify that I am the victim, he was the perpetrator of a series of crimes. Not just to me, but my whole family.

Not Talking About Childhood Abuse

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I don’t want to talk about being abused because of the way it makes me feel when I talk about it.  But unless I do, I suffer. There are strange things that come out of my unconscious. Suppressed feelings. Things that come to my attention from weird accidents, body reactions that I can’t explain, numbness and  inappropriate actions/behaviors/words that seem to come out of nowhere.

When I was younger, teens and twenties, I didn’t want people to know how damaged I was from what happened to me, so I hid it. Then as I grew older I thought, I should tell some of them, but not everybody I met. Just people I thought should know why I was acting like I did. Those people could benefit from explanation.

Now I tell people when I want them to know me, people who seem compassionate, loving, sensitive and genuinely interested in me.

The rest I tell through writing.

Through writing I also add to all the other voices of people who have been abused like me. Who are bravely telling their stories. Through writing and speaking publicly. As a collective we can start a movement to eradicate Childhood Sexual Abuse as a experience children have.

But the pain of losing my husband has brought up unresolved pain from CSA to the surface.

It makes me think of Rod Stewart singing

I can tell by your eyes that you’ve probably been cryin’ forever
And the stars in the sky don’t mean nothin’ to you, they’re a mirror
I don’t want to talk about it, how you broke my heart
If I stay here just a little bit longer
If I stay here, won’t you listen to my heart, whoa, my heart?

Now I am back to not wanting to talk about it,

But its still on my mind.

And it still poisons my life.

Recently a friend died who experienced childhood sexual abuse.

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She never told anyone in her family about what happened when her uncle sexually assaulted her at the age of 10. She went to her grave thinking she was protecting her family by not disclosing what happened.

It reminds me of all the women I have known who were sexually violated as children by family members. There are too many.   Most of them wouldn’t tell another soul what happened.

This particular friend said she was going to get over it, that it somehow didn’t really hurt her as much when she was young, As a middle-aged adult she understood exactly how it hurt her and it was too much to bear at times. The damage to her ability to trust others, to love deeply, to accomplish things in her life.  She wanted to feel healthy and whole and trusting.

But she (and to some degree all of the people who are sexually violated) don’t feel much of anything good.  She felt so conflicted.  She wished she had told what happened when it happened, but since it had been so long ago, she felt it wouldn’t do any good at all, just cause trouble.  She felt so isolated, because she didn’t and wouldn’t tell.

I think about the people who I have known in my life who physically survived. Emotionally didn’t make it through.  It breaks my heart to know so many who didn’t survive at all.  It occurs to me there is little hope in stopping childhood sexual abuse except to tell. Until the people who haven’t experienced it are on our side. Until they can see that the numbers of survivors is bigger than we think. That the damage is persistent and life long.

Not one person alone can make this happen, but if enough children who grow into adults tell what happened to them as children, then we can do something about it. It’s by telling what we experienced and who did it that we can stop it. It helps us get over feeling powerless. It is how we can do something about it.

Reasons its important to tell

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So it won’t eat up your emotional life. Are you holding back to protect the abuser or some other family member?

So you don’t miss the opportunity to love another person and have them love you for who you are, if you want to.  Really, really know you, who you are,  wounds and all. 

The general public has no idea how many people are sexually abused as children.  Making it personal makes it real.

The general public has no idea what childhood sexual abuse does to us, the children.. Help them know  

By telling others, it will dispel the ignorance.  People treat us ignorantly when they are not educated about childhood sexual abuse.

So we don’t hide our history of abuse.  Were not safe just cause we don’t tell. It doesn’t protect us  

So we don’t  protect criminals. We may love them because they are our parents or siblings but they have to be stopped.

So we can get clean, clear honesty into our lives.Its the one thing that will help us stay sane.

 So we start to know that we matter (are important) and worthy again. (or maybe for the first time if you were very young when it happened). They taught us what we wanted and needed didn’t matter, but thats not true. 

By telling we develop self esteem.  We learn we are valuable, capable and able to be effective in protecting ourselves.

We learn to increase our Self approval.   Are you learning to approve of yourself instead of wanting the approval of your abuser (by not telling what happened)?

So we acknowledge just how much it hurts. Telling will put us on the right track to emotional maturity, instead of being buried at the age of our violation.

So we can become fully alive. Instead of staying our young wounded self. 

By telling people, we are no longer isolated as we were when we were being assaulted. Being emotionally free we can choose to be alone, which is different than being alone frozen in our past. 

Freedom will come when you take the risk of telling.Telling another person about our experiences, the truth of our experiences is a big turning point in our healing.Take your time, take it slow but do it. Speak up and out. Their sickness can only exist in the secretive darkness perpetrators rely on to keep violating children.

 

Can you think of more?

 

Because we shield the abusers, we make it possible for them to continue their behavior. Exposed facts will educate others to the seriousness of the problem

 

We have to show them the ugliness we have been exposed to.

How do you know what is lying is when your a Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivor

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Since I grew up in the company of dishonest, evasive and lying people, I have an ongoing fascination with honesty. When you’re a incest survivor it’s hard to know what is real and what is not. We often become suspicious, distrustful or gullible. Our shit detector becomes clouded. I am looking for better ways to stay honest in my dealings with others. So when I run across a blog entry that talks about the reasons why and how to stay honest I perk up. #5 in the following article is a doozy.

25 Things People in Healthy Relationships Don’t Do  by Mark and Angel Hack Life

http://www.marcandangel.com/2014/06/25/25-things-people-in-healthy-relationships-dont-do/

They don’t keep secrets. – Trust is the foundation of a relationship, and when trust is broken it takes time and willingness on the part of both people involved to repair it and heal.  All too often, I’ll hear a coaching client say something like, “I didn’t tell her but I didn’t lie about it, either.”  This statement is a contradiction, as omissions are lies.  If you’re covering up your tracks in any way, it’s only a matter of time before the truth is revealed and trust in the relationship is broken.  Speak the truth, no matter what the consequences.  Being honest is the only way to be at peace with yourself and others.

Even though Mark and Angel write their blog for the average reader, I find their advice and comments to be true for Childhood sexual abuse survivors too. Especially when it comes to areas such as truthfulness, honesty, being in healthy relationships and communication. All areas where we need clarity and open communication.

When I was a child, I believed my life depended on keeping Jacks secrets.  I thought he would kill me, or leave my mom, or my mom would leave me with him.  He depended on me to keep his secrets. Things he didn’t want to admit to anyone or for anyone to know. They were horrible and hurtful. And he lied to everyone either by denying, evading, hiding or lying to someones face. All are forms of dishonesty.

After living my life hiding the truth of my experiences from the people who I wanted to love, I have seen how it inhibits what goes on in my own relationships. Once I hold something back it’s not long before everything gets stopped up. Emotional constipation. Then it’s just a matter of time before the relationship goes bad. I can’t live in an intimate relationship when I evade being known to the other person. But I didn’t have any role models to show what a loving relationship was like. I never saw anyone who really talked to each other.  I learned how to do it. I learned just like plenty of other people do, I watched others ho were in loving relationships. I practiced and made mistakes with the people I love and loved. I kept trying.

 

Things I did to get over being raped as a child

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  1. I learned as much as I could about childhood sexual abuse.
  2. I started journaling.
  3. I told people what happened to me.
  4. I kept talking about it to my immediate family. Just couldn’t drop it.
  5. I became a counselor.
  6. I exercised.
  7. I had massages.
  8. I had a child.
  9. I married, twice. Both times to great men.
  10. I never moved back to my family.
  11. I learned how to cook.
  12. I listened to great music.
  13. I learned there were plenty of kind men in my world.
  14. I dressed badly. Kinda still do.
  15. I knowingly put myself in dangerous situations.
  16. I slept around with people I didn’t know or care about.
  17. I avoided my family.
  18. I went to therapy. Group and individual.
  19. I learned to accept compliments.
  20. I learned how to have friends.
  21. I moved to several different states to start over again and again.
  22. I talked about it with my sisters incessantly.
  23. I under ate food.
  24. I went into the Army.
  25. I never learned to play a musical instrument.
  26. I learned how to take care of my home.
  27. I hid out at my house.
  28. I pretended everything was fine.
  29. I lied about how I felt.
  30. I took up religion.
  31. I dropped religion.
  32. I learned how to listen to other people.
  33. I did destructive things to myself.
  34. I cried a lot when I was older.
  35. I overworked to hide from being close to others.
  36. I hated men for a while.
  37. I went to college.
  38. I stopped doing things before they were completed.
  39. I lacked trust in my own perceptions.
  40. I feared way too many things.
  41. I had terrible boundaries until I was much older.
  42. I had nightmares for years.
  43. I learned self defense.
  44. I’m learning how to be comfortable with all of me.
  45. I learned how to not rush through my feelings.
  46. I learned how to protect vulnerable people and animals.
  47. I quit hiding my woundedness.
  48. I quit lying about it.
  49. I tried to drink alcohol, but didn’t like how it felt.
  50. I stayed emotionally stopped up for years.

What kind of things did you try or do to help heal. Any comments?

Wanting to write about Childhood Sexual Abuse again.

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Its been a while since I have experienced enough emotional stability to want to think about the effects of CSA. Not that is hasn’t been on my mind. There has been so much grief from losing my husband to cancer, not much has been left over. Grieving destabilizes anyones emotional life, doubly so when your scarred from abuse too. Recently my son sent a link to me about the “Culture of Rape”. The very first paragraph named a real problem we have in identifying who could be a rapist. What most people believe is how easy it is to identify a sexual perpetrator. A person who sexually violates a child can be found lurking around the school, just waiting for little Kimmy to come out on to the play ground. But that’s not true. In my case it was who I went home to after school causing the damage. In fact, I felt safer at school than anywhere else. School was the safest place. Not my home. That was what came out of the reading the first line of the article. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/what-is-rape-culture. Time for another line.